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Deputy Secretary Negroponte To Engage Sudan on Peacekeepers

05 April 2007

April trip also will highlight role of neighboring countries in Darfur crisis

Washington -- Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte will visit Sudan and neighboring countries April 11-19, focusing on the crisis in Darfur and continuing efforts to implement the Darfur Peace Agreement and Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said April 5.

In his meetings with Sudanese officials, Negroponte will be encouraging Sudan to take the steps necessary to allow the three-phased deployment of a hybrid African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force, which McCormack said is “fundamental to providing security and greater stability in Darfur,” as well as helping to implement the Darfur Peace Agreement.

“Most important … [the peacekeepers] would allow some easing of the terrible humanitarian situation that we find in Darfur right now,” he said.

Negroponte also plans to discuss the ability of nongovernmental organizations to operate and deliver humanitarian assistance in Darfur in the face of continued attacks.

“The Sudanese government needs to do everything that it possibly can to halt, stop, prevent any attacks on innocent civilians or those aid groups,” McCormack said.

The spokesman said that because the situation in Darfur is “a regional crisis,” Negroponte also will be traveling to Chad, Libya and Mauritania.

“The focus of his discussions will be on Sudan and how Libya, how Chad can play a role in resolving the conflict, [and] what they might do. It certainly touches on their borders,” he said, adding that Sudan’s neighbors can play “an active, positive role” by encouraging the Sudanese government to take steps to help resolve the crisis, as well as to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Asked about the possibility of U.N. sanctions on Sudan if it does not cooperate with the peacekeeping efforts, McCormack said the Bush administration first wants to speak with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about his recent discussions with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.  (See related article.)

“It's a combination of taking a look at what other diplomacy is ongoing, whether or not that's yielding results, as well as internally taking a look at what it is we would put on the table for next steps that we would take,” McCormack said.

However, he added that if the Sudanese “don't change their behavior, I wouldn't bet against the United States, as well as others, taking additional steps.”

For more information on U.S. policy, see Darfur Humanitarian Emergency.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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